My friendship with St. Faustina began when a friend referred me to thedivinemercy.org, where I signed up to receive emails of daily Divine Mercy reflections from her diary.
From the moment I began reading these passages, I was impressed by her profound humility and her trust in Jesus. Since these are two things I am striving for in my life, we became instant friends.
St. Faustina was an ill-educated nun in the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy in Poland in the 1930s. She received private revelations from Christ, which largely focused on a message of mercy. They were recorded in a diary and later published as a book, “Diary of St. Maria Faustina Kowalska: Divine Mercy in My Soul.” She died of tuberculosis in 1938 at the age of 33 and was canonized on April 30, 2000, by St. Pope John Paul II.
St. Faustina wrote that she first saw a vision of Jesus on Feb. 22, 1931. He had rays of mercy streaming from His heart. Christ told her to have an image painted to represent the vision and to write below it, “Jesus, I trust in you!” This image is the picture that we venerate on Divine Mercy Sunday, the first Sunday after Easter. Through His revelations, Christ wanted us to know that His mercy is greater than our sins, so that we will call upon Him with trust, receive His mercy and let it flow through us to others.
Little did I know that our friendship would grow, and I would begin to see St. Faustina everywhere. Here is one of those stories.
In August 2019, my wife, Sharon, and I drove to Cedar Rapids, Iowa. I had been invited to give a stewardship talk at St. Patrick Parish that evening. On the way there, I was telling her about things that I was learning from St. Faustina through her incredible diary. When we arrived at St. Patrick, we were greeted by their pastor, Father Ivan Nienhaus. Father Nienhaus gave us a tour of the campus, which included a new adoration chapel.
He was very excited to show us the chapel. They had just received a first-class relic of St. Faustina. What a gift! I just had this whole conversation about St. Faustina with Sharon on the way there, and when we arrived, we were given the gift of St. Faustina herself.
Father Nienhaus could see the look of joy (and surprise) on our faces. I explained to him what happened and how I was developing this friendship with St. Faustina. He then told us about his recent pilgrimage to Poland and visiting the holy sites of St. Faustina. Through our mutual devotion to St. Faustina, Father Nienhaus and I became friends. Before we returned to St. Louis, Father Nienhaus gave us prayer cards of St. Faustina from Poland.
Just as we have friends on earth, we also have friends in heaven — saints that have come before us. Just as our friends on earth can positively impact our lives, so will our friends in heaven.
If you desire something, find people on earth and in heaven that model that virtue and then spend time with them. St. Faustina, thank you for your example of humility and trust in Jesus.
St. Faustina, please pray for us!
Baranowski is the director of stewardship education in the Archdiocese of St. Louis. He and his wife are parishioners at Mary, Mother of the Church in south St. Louis County. He can be reached at (314) 792-7215 or [email protected].